IN THE PEACE OF OLD ABYDOS 167
I left the court and passed out of the precincts of the temple into the bright flood of noon sunshine. I picked my way among the stones and dust, the bits of rock and heaps of sand, the broken blocks and shapeless fragments, among patches of green bramble and spiky camel-thorns, until I could find a vantage-point whence to take a last look upon the deserted building.
It rose up in its white simplicity, with twelve shattered square pillars to guard its frontal line; a plain, narrow doorway giving entry to it. How different, and how grand, it must have looked in its heyday! Architecture in Egypt was a hieratic art. Religion was the thread upon which its craftsmen and artists slipped the beads of their beautiful work.
"The palace within it is much embellished with fine gold true and fresh from the workings. When it is seen, hearts exult and all people make obeisance. Its nobility is that which gives it splendour. Its gates, exceeding great, are of pine of the forest/* boasted Seti in an inscribed decree describing his own achievement, "their bodies are gilded with fine gold and bound with bronze at their back parts. The great pylon-towers are of stone of Anu, the head-pieces of granite, their beauties reach Ra in his horizon,"
Such was Abydosóreputed burying-place of the god Osiris, in reality the first centre of Mystery initiation "burials" in
And the larks still sang enchantingly among the broken roofs of this last successor to Osiris's first sanctuary as I descended to the village with my private dream of the Past.
I had found a place I loved, and I knew that its intangible spell, laid on me as by an invisible hand, would draw me back again and yet again. Such places held me, in fact and in memory, enslaved in a servitude from which I sought no escape.
If I can catch a few immortal moments out of the fleeting hours, then only am I made aware that I have not lived in vain. At Abydos, I had caught such moments.